Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata is giving high praise to his teammate Wayne Rooney ahead of England and Spain’s friendly on Friday.
“When we speak about Wayne we’re speaking about the captain of England and my team Manchester United,” Mata told The Guardian on Thursday. “He’s a very important player. He’s scored more goals than anyone in the English national team and at United.
“I know he can play in different positions. At the end it’s Roy Hodgson or Louis van Gaal who decides, but obviously if he’s close to the box he will score more. I feel very proud to play alongside him in my team and it will be very difficult to face him tomorrow.”
Mata believes that England will be one of the favorites next summer in France.
“Talking to Wayne every day in Manchester, I can tell that he is delighted with England’s national team,” he said. “They have youth, desire to win and the capacity to achieve something important – you only need to look at their [Euro 2016] qualifying campaign in which they won every game.
“Tomorrow’s match will be a tough test for us and for them to see what level they’re at. I believe that England are one of our direct rivals for Euro 2016.”
England won Group E, winning all 10 games and finishing with a +28 goal difference after only conceding three goals while scoring 31.
Mata and Spain also won their group (Group C), but did lose one game against Slovakia and ended with 27 points in 10 games.